40km (25 miles) NW of Bologna, 403km (250 miles) NW of Rome, 130km (81 miles) N of Florence

After Ferrara fell to Pope Clement VIII, the Este family established a duchy at Modena in the closing years of the 16th century. This city in the Po Valley possesses many great art treasures evoking its more glorious past. On the food front, Modena's chefs enjoy an outstanding reputation in hard-to-please gastronomic circles. Traversed by the ancient Roman road, Via Emilia, Modena also is a hot spot for European art connoisseurs.

Modena is an industrial zone blessed with Italy's highest per-capita income, and it can seem as sleek as the sports cars it produces. This is partially because of its 20th-century face-lift -- the city was largely rebuilt following World War II bombings. These factors create a stark contrast to both the antiquity and the poverty so noticeable in other regions. Modena is home to automobile and racing giants Ferrari, Maserati, and De Tomaso, and is known for producing Lambrusco wine and balsamic vinegar. Modena was also the hometown of the late, great Pavarotti who died of cancer on September 6, 2007.

Many visitors who care little about antiquities come here to do business with the Ferrari or Maserati car plants (both off-limits to the general public). You can visit a showroom, the Galleria Ferrari, Via Dino Ferrari 43 in Maranello (tel. 0536-943204), a suburb of Modena, which displays engines, trophies, and both antique and the latest Ferrari cars. It's open May to September daily 9:30am to 7pm, October to April daily 9:30am to 6pm, charging an admission of 12€ ($17) for adults and 8€ ($12) for youth ages 6 to 10. From the bus station on Via Bacchini in Modena, a bus marked MARANELLO departs hourly during the day. Ask at the tourist office for details and a map.